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Photo Exhibit Chronicles Hazards at Work (Released: 01/17/01)

By Sherry Fisher, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- In one photograph, two laundry workers hold hypodermic needles found in soiled bed linens shipped from hospitals to the Brooklyn Central Laundry. Another shows the face of a coal miner blackened with soot, his eyes staring from beneath his headlamp. In another image, a logging truck is tipped over on the side of a dirt road.

These black-and-white images, and dozens of others by photojournalist Earl Dotter, document the dangerous but essential jobs that millions of American workers face each day. An exhibit of Dotter's work, "The Quiet Sickness: A Photographic Chronicle of Hazardous Work in America," may be seen at the University of Connecticut's Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, from Jan. 25 through March 16. The public is also invited to an opening reception on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m., at which Dotter will speak.

For more than 25 years, Dotter has taken his camera across the country to photograph those Americans who work in hazardous occupations. He started his work in the Appalachian coal fields, and has since photographed a broad spectrum of industries and regions of the U.S.

"When I walk through a mine, a mill factory, or on board a commercial fishing vessel, I find myself drawn to those subjects who emanate a sense of personal worth and of belonging to the human family," Dotter says. "When I experience tragedy in the workplace - death and disability - I use the camera to explore not just the person or event, but my own reaction to it. If I am successful, then the viewer will be better able to stand before the photograph and feel the intensity of the moment as I myself felt it."

Larry Silbart, associate professor and assistant director of UConn's Center for Environmental Health, says the show will raise awareness of important health and safety issues: "I think these photographs will heighten issues in environmental health and safety that will be easy for people to digest and conceptualize."

Dotter's photographs have been used extensively n textbooks, in health and safety manuals, in national magazines, and by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The exhibit is sponsored jointly by the University Libraries and the Center for Environmental Health. Exhibit hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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